From renting to buying

When I was a teenager, the largest store in my suburb changed from being a “variety” store to being a video store. The upcoming new release was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Rentals of new releases were somewhere around $5 for an overnight rental, and – I think – $2 for a weekly rental.


Having a VHS VCR was becoming more and more normal, but for our home usage at least we would buy blank VHS cassettes, and tape movies from the TV, pausing carefully to remove the ads. The idea of renting movies was just coming alive in the public consciousness – before that, people had to pay to watch movies at the cinema, or wait to watch them on TV.


The new idea, though, was the idea of buying a new release movie to keep. I have a memory of the new Indiana Jones movie being offered on sale for $120 (for one that had never been rented) and getting cheaper for ex-rentals, but still quite expensive.


There was a resistance on the part of the copyright holder in moving from a rental model to an ownership model.


What we’re seeing now is a migration from renting an individual download to paying for a membership of a library of downloads, but we’ll get to that in a future post.